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2012 Award Winning Books: Caldecott and Newbery Awards

by Miriam Downey 10. February 2012 10:06

Every year in January, the American Library Association announces the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott awards for the best children's books of the previous year. The Newbery is awarded to the author of the most distinguished children literature of the year. The Caldecott award is given to the best illustrated children's book of the year. That award goes to the illustrator, not the author.

I have followed these awards for most of my career. Some of the best books ever written for children have received the Newbery and Caldecott awards. Here are this year's winners and honor books.

 Newbery Award: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos is a book about a boy named Jack Gantos, apparently no relation to the author. Smile It is very funny and both boys and girls will love it. The book jacket says it all: "...a sly sharp-edged narrative about a small western Pennsylvania town and a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air." (Grades 6 and up) Jack Gantos has written a lot of very funny books including the Joey Pigza series about a hyperactive boy with a very complicated life. (Grades 5-7)

 Caldecott Medal: A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

I fell in love with Chris Raschka several years ago with the publishing of his delightful books Yo! Yes? and Mysterious Thelonius, both of which were Caldecott Honor Books. A Ball for Daisy, is brilliant in its wordless simplicity. The dog is playing with his ball and the ball breaks. Raschka said he got the idea for the book when watching his daughter playing with a favorite toy which broke. Her reaction to the broken toy inspired the award-winning book. The School Library Journal's review (Aug. 2011) suggests that: "Raschka's genius lies in capturing the essence of situations that are deeply felt by children." (ages 3 and up)

Newbery Honor Books

Inside Out and Back Again by Tahnhha Lai. This is the moving account of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next. (grades 4-8)

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin. Written for middle grade students, this short novel about a boy in the Soviet Union in the 1950s will thrill older readers as well. (grades 4-8)

Caldecott Honor Books

Blackout by John Rocco. What happens to the city when the electricity goes out? What do people do to entertain themselves? These issues are explored in the wonderful illustrations that move from color to black-and-white. (preschool-grade 2)

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith. Lane Smith is a well known illustrator, and his beautiful picture book Grandpa Green explores the life of a great-grandfather. (k-2) Lane Smith also illustrated the Caldecott Honor Book, The Stinky Cheese Man, which, by the way, is a very funny book.

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell is my favorite of this year's award books. McDonnell draws the comic strip, Mutts, so the illustrations have a signature comic strip quality. The remarkable story is about Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. It is accessible to very young children. (preschool-grade 2)

Here are some more of the year's best books

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom by Shane W. Evans (The Coretta Scott King Award) (grades 2-4)

Heart and Soul:The Story of American and African Americans by Kadir Nelson. (Coretta Scott King Honor Book) (grades 4-6)

Two other must-read books of 2011 and award-winners in 2012

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. If you loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret, you will also love Wonderstruck. Graphic novel for middle grade students.

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. While the movie was told from an adult perspective, the novel is told from the perspective of the horse. Excellent for grades 6-10.

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